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9 ideas coming to a kitchen near you

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 (Houzz)

Anything that can help us stay organized and handle tasks efficiently is a real bonus for today's families. In this niche, the necessities for breakfast are in one spot next to the refrigerator, making it a breeze to get breakfast ready. It all gets hidden behind the lift-up door.

The driving force in kitchen design this year is a need for calming spaces and improved functionality — in general, less stress in our busy lives. Here are 9 design trends that are making kitchen-related tasks easier, or are moving the look in a more minimal direction.

If you are getting ready to build or remodel — or even if you just want to freshen up your kitchen a bit — here are trending features to consider.

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1. Microwave drawers. Microwave drawers are going to become as ubiquitous as the dishwasher. Gone are the days of reaching for steaming hot food at a point just above your head, or giving up valuable counter space for your microwave. The drawers make it so easy to lift out hot food safely, or to reach in and stir food without having to pull it out onto the counter.

2. Drawers, period. Drawers make better use of lower cabinets. If you’re trying to make dinner in a hurry, you don't want to spend 10 minutes on your hands and knees fishing around bottom shelf for the right pot. 

Drawers mean you can use every inch of your cabinet space effectively. Customizable peg-drawer organizers keep dishes from sliding around when opening and closing the drawers.

And drawers can hold just about anything, even those cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink. Don't you hate reaching around for some cleaning product behind the garbage disposal?

3. Soft sheen instead of super shine. Leathered, honed or flamed granite countertops offer a low sheen, and the texture feels good under your hands. These finishes are outpacing highly polished surfaces in popularity.

4. Backsplashes on the rise. Backsplashes are going up — all the way up to the bottom of the upper cabinets. And just when you think they've stopped climbing, they go right on up to the ceiling. 

5. Solid-surface backsplashes. We all are looking for kitchens that are easier to keep clean. Solid surfaces are easier to wipe down than grouted tile and offer a serene and uncluttered look. Taking the backsplash all the way up to the wall cabinets accomplishes that in one way, but using a solid surface with few or no seam lines provides a very sleek look. 

Natural stone is another great option for a smooth and seamless backsplash. You still need to seal the stone on a backsplash, but because it doesn't take as much punishment as the counter, maintenance isn't much of an issue.

Contemporary kitchens aren't the only ones that look spectacular with a stone slab for a backsplash. The mellow feel of honed marble offers a classic feel while still being totally up to date.

Back-painted glass backsplashes are popular for very contemporary kitchens, but it’s also being paired with traditional cabinetry, too.

6. Wine fridges. Compact wine fridges make it possible to keep your wine at exactly the right temperature — and handy for your parties. If you don't have a wine cellar, a wine fridge mounted in your lower cabinets is the next best thing.

7. Functional task stations. Anything that can help us stay organized and handle tasks efficiently is a real bonus for today's families. In the photo above, for example, the necessities for breakfast are in one spot next to the refrigerator, making it a breeze to get breakfast ready. And it all gets hidden behind the lift-up door.

8. Fewer upper cabinets. To preserve a sense of open space, many people are reducing the number of upper cabinets in their kitchens. To make this work, use pullout drawers in your base cabinets to maximize storage.

9. Or run your cabinets to the ceiling. If you do still want upper cabinets, extend your kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling for a clean look and extra storage. Use those cabinets at the top to store those items that only come out at Thanksgiving. Or put glass panels in the doors and lights inside and enjoy displaying accessories while keeping them dust-free.

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